This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Tara Grant. Tara is the creator of Primal Girl, completely transformed her life by eating and exercising smarter, has dedicated her life to helping others to do the same, and is here to help us reclaim our personal power!
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Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show because we have truly an inspirational, a wonderful guest, a guest who is, as we always talked about, being the change she wants to see in the world. She is the founder and proprietor of PrimalGirl.com. She’s heavily, heavily plugged into Mark’s Daily Apple and Mark Sisson’s wonderful work. She’ll be at PrimalCon this year. She’ll be at the Ancestral Health Symposium. She’s coming out with a new book called The Hidden Plague, which we’ll talk about. Ladies and gentlemen, we have none other than the Tara Grant with us today. Tara, welcome.
Tara: Thank you, Jonathan. It’s good to be here.
Jonathan: Well, Tara, I just wanted to have you on the show as soon as possible because as soon as I heard your story and frankly, if anyone does a quick web search on Tara Grant and checks out your website PrimalGirl.com and they see you – I don’t know. It’s even hard to believe your story. The transformation that you’ve experience and how you’ve done it and how you’ve maintained it and what you’ve been able to parlay that into is nothing short of inspirational. Can you just take us through that story?
Tara: Oh, wow. Well, it’s a pretty long story. Starts way back when I hit puberty. I just lost control. I was eating the wrong things my entire life. I had a really bad sugar addiction. I would sit in my bedroom with a book and a chocolate bar, and that was my idea of a good afternoon. It perpetuated itself throughout my life. I got fatter and fatter and sicker. When I hit my early 20s, I started to get all these diseases and syndromes and conditions. I felt like I was 90 years old. I had tendonitis, arthritis, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome.
I was pushing 200 pounds. My hair was falling out. I was bald in my temples and just absolutely mortified. I didn’t want to live anymore. I hated my life. I hated myself and I knew that there was something wrong with me but I didn’t know what so I started going to doctors and I saw over 40 doctors from four different countries and none of them could help me. They called me a hypochondriac. They said I was making this stuff up. “Go hit a treadmill, fatty.” It was really, really bad. I still had it in my mind that doctors could fix me, that medicine could fix me. I begged to the doctors for every medication that I could possibly find. I would do research.
Metformin is supposed to work for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Let me go on it. I completely gave my power away to this industry that really didn’t have my best interest at heart and I assumed that when I left the doctor’s office that they opened up their books and they were reading through my files and they were delving in like an investigator trying to figure out what’s wrong with this patient. I didn’t realize that once I left that office they essentially brain dumped to me. They forgot about me and they didn’t even remember me when I came in the next time except to say “Yes, you’re the one that we can’t figure out what’s wrong with you. Here take a placebo and be on your way.”
I got sicker and sicker and sicker. I was trying to have a baby. I couldn’t do that. It took ten years of trying to have a baby. I just had decided at that point, I was on anti-depressants and everything, that I couldn’t have children. I didn’t want to live anymore, and I was just messed up emotionally, physically, spiritually. Every area of my life was going wrong. Then, I managed to get pregnant through invitro fertilization and I’ll tell you, Jonathan, I had the most miserable pregnancy I think that anyone’s ever had. Anything that could go wrong went wrong with me.
I gained close to a hundred pounds in six months. I was on bed rest the entire time. I was hemorrhaging. Starting at three months, exactly 12 weeks to the day when they say you can tell everybody that you’re pregnant that it should be safe, I started hemorrhaging. I was in the ER and they didn’t know what had happened. It turns out that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage and the babies were absolutely fine. Thank God. I was carrying twins.
Jonathan: Oh, wow.
Tara: Yes, so I went about the pregnancy over 300 pounds, easy. I couldn’t even weight myself anymore because I couldn’t see the scale. Two months early, I went into labor and the babies were born. They were in the NICU for four weeks, three and four pounds and then they were having problems going to the bathroom. They weren’t having bowel movements and the doctors told me “Oh, that’s normal. Pooping once a week and screaming in pain and having bleeding from the tearing, oh, that’s normal in a newborn baby.”
It was at that point that I thought to myself “This isn’t about me anymore. This is about my children whom I love more than life itself, who I tried to have for over ten years. I’m not going to listen to this crap anymore. I need to do what’s best for them. I need to find a solution to all of their problems and I don’t believe that that solution is medication anymore.” It was like a light bulb just went off. A switch was flicked in my head. At that point, I still didn’t know what to do. I had no idea. I just knew that what I was doing wasn’t working and my brother, bless his heart, sent me a copy of The Primal Blueprint.
This was back in 2009 on Mother’s Day, I received it actually. I started reading it and everything in that book made so much sense to me. I knew that within those pages was the solution to every single problem that I had been facing since I was 13 years old, and I went primal before I even finish the book, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve lost over a hundred pounds. I’ve gotten rid of every single medical problem that I had is gone. Every single one. I’d been continuing to tweak my diet and biohack myself. Do a little experiments on myself to see how I react. My children are primal. My husband is primal. My parents are primal. It’s absolutely change our lives.
Jonathan: Tara, just to make sure folks understand, when you say you’re primal, can you give us an idea of what you focus on eating so much of that you don’t have room for other things?
Tara: Sure. Well, for those of you that haven’t heard about the primal diet, it’s very similar to a Paleo diet or an Ancestral diet. We try to eat as closely as possible to the way that our ancestors ate, whether that’s your grandmother or caveman 20,000 years ago is completely up to you but we eat a lot of fat, a lot of saturated fat, believe it or not, and that fills me up, absolutely. We cut out grains so things like wheat and corn are off the list, and I found out that I have gluten intolerance, that I’m also intolerant to corn and everything along the way, so that’s easy to avoid.
We also avoid things like legumes, lentils, beans, peas. They’re very high glycemic and they really mess up my blood sugar quite a lot so that was also easy to avoid, and we eat a lot of meat, a lot of fat and a lot of fruits and vegetables and I’m satisfied. I’m full all the time. My hunger has changed. I used to have hypoglycemia and I had to eat every hour or I’ll just be this raging maniac, but now I can go hours and hours without eating. I’m not hungry. My blood sugar doesn’t crash. Everything feels normal and good.
Jonathan: Tara, I would imagine also in that list, it sounds like you’re too full for a bunch of processed sugars and a lot of these modern oils that I don’t even know how you get oil from corn but yes, you can.
Tara: Yes, they get oil from corn, sugar from corn. You’re right. I don’t eat anything processed anymore. I make everything myself from scratch and it’s been really good, and thank you for bringing up the industrial seed oils, the refined vegetable oils, you can’t really get oil from corn in nature in big amounts. You just can’t. It’s a processing that uses a lot of chemicals and it isn’t natural and our bodies don’t like it.
Jonathan: Tara, what is, I think, so fascinating is so much of the typical Western diet nowadays. There is, of course, the legumes and then I know dairies, an interesting topic for some but really the key perpetrators of what it sounds like where a lot of the amazing challenges that you and your family overcame were the processed starches, the sweets and the processed oils which so often are together. If you eat one of them that opens the door for the other two to come along with it because they’re all the key components to these processed and packaged food/edible products, correct?
Tara: Exactly, and a lot of that stuff is put in there to hide the inferior food quality to bulk it up as well because it’s cheaper. It’s a lot cheaper to use soy oil or corn oil than it is to use olive oil, and the food industry goes with what’s cheapest and they have got food scientist spending billions of dollars on research to find combination of foods and chemicals that are going to make it taste good and make us crave more.
Jonathan: I think that, Tara, you just hit the nail in the head when you actually say combination of chemicals because sometimes I think we lose sight of – whether what you are ingesting is a food or a pill, anything you put in your body causes a physiological reaction, and things that we put in our body that are found in nature that we’ve been putting in our body while our body was developing and evolving, those are generally things that have positive effects on our body but when we try to put things in our body that we haven’t become accustomed to handling we experience side effects which aren’t really side effects.
There’s no such thing as side effect. There’s just effects. When you put gasoline in a car; a car is designed to handle gasoline so there’s really no side effect to using car. There’s just effects, but if you put kerosene in a car’s gas tank, all these weird stuff happens. It’s not a side effect. It’s that the car isn’t designed to use kerosene so it sounds like you’re just focusing on putting things into your body that have been put in the human body as long as human body have existed, correct?
Tara: Exactly, correct. When you see natural flavor on the package, I used to fall for stuff like that because I thought “Well, natural flavor. It’s natural.” or made from sugar so it taste like sugar. If I can’t go out and find natural strawberry flavor in isolation on its own in nature and harvest it myself then as far as I’m concerned, it’s not very natural.
Jonathan: Oh, absolutely. It’s so fascinating too, Tara because you mentioned something early during your story and I’m so happy that it had a happy ending because at one point I was just like “Oh, man.” It’s amazing that you were able to pull yourself out of that but what you represented was this profound mind shift and really why I wanted to talk to you and share your story. You used the phrase “I gave my power away.” That is so important.
You mentioned that we have these edible product manufacturers and they have goals. Their goal is to sell products that is as profitable as possible. I’m not going to be making a moral judgment. That is their job. Their job is to sell product. Now, we have a job too, Tara. We have a job to protect ourselves and to protect our families and that’s our job. I feel so often we actually outsource that job to someone who doesn’t care nearly as much about us or our families than we do.
Tara: Exactly, absolutely. Yes, I gave my power away. I was in a victim’s role. Why is this happening to me? Oh woo is me? No, once I took that power back and I learned to be an advocate for my own health because – like I was saying earlier, I didn’t realize that the doctors weren’t delving into my medical files and trying to figure out what’s wrong. I had to do that myself. Once I made that connection – and then also with my children, no one was looking out for them except for me and my husband, it just was this radical mind shift and it just permeated to every area of my life.
Jonathan: That Tara, I think, is so wonderful what you’ve done with that now is you’re going out and you’re empowering other people with that. I had a similar moment in my life. I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey’s work. Rest his soul. He mentions a quote which has just stuck with me over the years and that is until a person can say deeply and honestly “I am where I am today and I am what I am today because of decisions I made.” They have no power to change it because if you aren’t in the position you are because of things you did then there’s nothing you can do about it.
Taking that responsibility while it is terrifying and while it can be disheartening at the same time, it’s a bit of a paradox because it’s also the most empowering mindset we could ever have because if it’s your doctor’s fault or if it’s society’s fault, you have to wait until they change, and you might be waiting a really long time. Whereas if it’s you, then you have control over that, and that’s what we all want is that sense of control, right?
Tara: Exactly. To be honest, Jonathan, I lived most of my life in that mindset where it was everybody else’s fault. It wasn’t mine. It wasn’t until I have my kids that I realized that I’m in charge of them until they’re old enough to tell me otherwise. I was now responsible for another human being and I was saying to my husband “Oh, we’re not feeding them that. I will not feed my child that.” and I thought to myself “Well, why would I feed my child’s mother that?”
It was just making the connection between how important I am in their lives and if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of them, and it was just a domino effect. Like I said, it just reverberated through every aspect of my life, the way that I worked out, the way that I interact in business, online and everything. It is my goal to help people take back their power and to realize that they hold the key to their health and their happiness and their success.
Jonathan: Tara, that is such a profound message and I think so often we underestimate our own abilities. Let me give an example of what I mean here. You are obviously an incredibly powerful woman who has had wonderful success in your life. I’ve also had some success in terms of my health and my fitness, and when I see an individual who’s struggling with their health and fitness, and I would imagine you might feel this way yourself, is a couple of things. One is I don’t necessarily advocate being a vegetarian. I’m just going to use this as an example but there are millions of vegetarians in the world. Vegetarians exist in a society that doesn’t really make it easy to be a vegetarian, doesn’t really facilitate vegetarianism, but they’re able to be vegetarians without much struggle.
They don’t really complain about it. They just do it. Now, there’s millions of people that do that. Those people are not more powerful than you. They’re not better than me. They’re not stronger than any of our listeners. There’s so many people around the world who are able to take control of what they put in their bodies despite a society which may not make that easy. I just think it’s so empowering to say to myself “I know that those people aren’t better than me.” I feel that if we don’t take control we’re somehow saying, either intrinsically or extrinsically “Well, all those people that are able to take control are somehow better than us.” and I just don’t think that’s true.
Tara: I agree. I agree 100 percent.
Jonathan: Fundamentally, Tara, anything really worthwhile in life, of course, takes effort. For me, it’s empowering to say – again, Steve Jobs has a quote along these lines because once you realized that anything that’s ever been done in this world was done by someone who’s no smarter than you are, it’s really empowering. You are as smart or as – we’re not talking about becoming a professional basketball player or professional athletes.
Certainly, those are things which there are genetic components which are outside of our control, but what we are talking about here controlling what we put into our body, how we move our body, that is something that all of us have an equal playing field on that and as we start to have private victories in that arena, wow it does permeate the rest of our lives.
Tara: Well, thank you for saying that because the book that I’m writing now is essentially a medical book. It’s how to get rid of an autoimmune disease, and when I first started writing it, I was having some self-esteem issues because I thought “I’m not qualified to write this book. I’m not a doctor. I haven’t been to years of medical school and training, and what qualifies me to write stuff like this? People are going to dismiss it because I don’t have a whole bunch of letters after my name.” As I started writing, I realized that I’ve cured myself of this autoimmune condition. I know exactly what causes it. There are doctors all over the world that have no idea.
They’ve never even heard of it and people are writing me letters saying “You’ve offered me the first hope that I’ve ever received in this. I was going to kill myself and now I’m not going to because you’ve told me that there is hope and that there is a chance that I can go into remission.” Once I realized that those doctors first of all haven’t written a book on this condition, I’m the first one that’s writing something like this, and they’re no more qualified to write a book on it than I am because I actually lived it. I lived it and I beat it and my goal is to help other people do the same thing, and it all comes down to taking responsibility and taking your power back and knowing that you can heal yourself.
Jonathan: Tara, that is such a profound message and I really want to get into a little bit more about your book, and just to close this segment of the show, I really want our listeners to take away while it can be intimidating to say “It’s my responsibility to take care of this.” I also would encourage you to feel the sense of empowerment that also brings along with it because again individuals like Tara who have had success in this face are proved positive.
You can do this. There’s not some genetic component that you’re not missing. We all have the power to control what we put in our bodies and how we use our bodies. I found the Steve Jobs’ quote I was referring to earlier, Tara, and if you don’t mind I want to share that real quick because I think it’s a wonderful quote.
Jonathan: It’s a little bit long but hopefully folks enjoy it. This is from the late Steve Jobs everyone. “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life. Have fun. Save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence and you can build your own things that other people can use.
“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and something will, you know if you push in something will pop out the other side that you can change it and you can mold it. That maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is just there and you just got to live it versus embrace it, change it, improve it and make your mark upon it. I think that’s very important, and however you learn that. Once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better because it’s kind of messed up in a lot of ways. Once you learned that, you’ll never be the same again.” and I think that’s so true.
Tara: That’s so powerful. Well, I feel like I’ve just been to the therapist.
Jonathan: Well speaking of powerful information, Tara, can you tell us a bit about the information in your upcoming book The Hidden Plague?
Tara: Sure. Well, essentially, it’s about a disease called hidradenitis suppurativa. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry about it. Nobody has heard of it including your doctor but there are approximately 12 million people in the United States alone that have this condition and what it is it’s a skin condition. Nobody seems to know what causes it, what makes people flare up, why it starts and why it migrates but it manifest as extremely painful pimples and cystic acne that can erupt anywhere on your body that there’s a hair follicle but it’s primarily in areas that are very private, in your armpits, in your groin, on your buttocks, under your breasts.
This is one of the reasons why people don’t talk about it because it is embarrassing. I’ve had hundreds of letters from people that thought that they had an STD. They went to the doctor and the doctor actually diagnosed them with herpes when they weren’t even sexually active. They’ve been made to feel ashamed. They’ve been told that it’s caused by not keeping yourself clean enough. They’re fobbed off with antibiotics that’s the only treatment for HS. Is a long-term course of antibiotics that they say you have to take for the rest of your life, and unfortunately, the antibiotics don’t do anything. They don’t help HS in anyway and they actually make the problem worse long term.
After I put up my blog post on it and I included some pictures that I’ve found on the internet – if you Google it, you’re going to come up with the horror story pictures. The people that are going through these just brutal, barbaric surgeries where they take out off all of the skin in the area all the way down to the muscle. They remove the fat and everything, and they hooked them up to vacuums. It takes two years to heal. Those are the pictures you’re going to come across.
What you’re not going to come across are pictures of the tiny little lumps and bumps that somebody might get in their armpit from time to time. They’re a little bit painful but they come and go, and they might think “Oh, I had a zit in my armpit. That’s weird.” or “I had an ingrown hair.” A lot of people think they have a really bad problem with ingrown hairs and when in fact, it’s actually hidradenitis suppurativa or HS, for short.
Jonathan: Fascinating. You’ve been basically on a quest to provide really the only comprehensive resource on how individuals – I’m assuming through primarily lifestyle intervention rather than pharmaceutical intervention can cure rather than treat the symptoms of this condition, or let’s say correct the underlying biological malfunction which causes this rather than just treating the symptoms.
Tara: Well, exactly. As it turns out HS is actually an autoimmune disease and if you Google autoimmune or you go to your doctors and say “I have an autoimmune condition.” They’re going to say “I’m sorry. That’s too bad for you because we don’t have a cure for that.” What I found is when I change my diet I went into remission and then I would flare up from time to time for no apparent reason and I wanted to figure out why that was so I talked to Loren Cordain, the doctor that wrote The Paleo Diet and he told me that he had actually done some research on HS and that he was positive that it was an autoimmune condition.
From there I looked into the autoimmune Paleo diet and I cut out nightshades from my diet, and I healed my gut and I essentially went into remission. I’ve been looking at the complicated interaction between hormones and autoimmune conditions and leaky gut and trying to help people. I had so many emails and letters from people already that have just taken up few basic instructions from me and they’re already in remission. I’m so thrilled. It was like what I was saying earlier, I have at least five emails a week from people saying “I want to kill myself because it’s so embarrassing.” They’re afraid to be touch. They’re afraid to go out in public. They’re afraid for anybody to see them naked.
If you can imagine, a young girl or boy, 13 years old just going through puberty with all the mess that that entails on its own and then having this skin condition, being in the locker room and needing to get changed and just mortified that somebody would find out. I had a letter from a 12 year old girl that said that she opened up to one of her friends and told her about this and showed her the scars and her friend went and told everybody in the school that she had STDs, and this girl wanted to kill herself. It’s just so heartbreaking for me.
What’s even more heartbreaking is that the medical community doesn’t seem to have any drive to figure out what causes this. All of the studies, the medical and scientific studies on this is how HS reacts to different drugs. That’s all they’re trying to do is just medicate it. Let’s treat the symptoms. Nobody is looking at the root cause and I believe that that’s what I’ve been able to do is to find the root cause of it.
Jonathan: Well, I think Tara, this just gets back to the overarching message that I think you represent and that hopefully we’ve been able to share with our listeners in this podcast, and that’s that we are each highly qualified artists that have the most compelling palette of paints available to us and that is the foods or things that look like food that aren’t actually foods that we choose to put in our bodies, and that we as individuals are the most qualified to make the ultimate determinant of whether or not something is quote unquote right or wrong, or good or bad and that is how it works with regards to our body individually.
It doesn’t matter what expert says about this is right or this is wrong. It doesn’t matter if a blogger agrees or disagrees with you, or even if your favorite author agrees or disagrees with you, if what you are doing is helping you to live better or to feel better and to achieve your goals, then you’re on the right track. When we understand that we have access to the most powerful tool set in the world which is what we put into our body every single day with every decision we make around eating and that we can fix these underlying conditions which are fundamentally crippling both physically and emotionally. Man, I think that gives us a reason to smile.
Tara: Definitely, I absolutely agree.
Jonathan: Well, Tara, thank you so much for all that you do to help individuals to smile because I’ve certainly smiled a lot during this podcast and every time I see your smiling face over at PrimalGirl.com. Listeners, I would very much encourage you to please – and Tara has a wonderful narrative up on her site that tells her story which truly is nothing short of outstanding – and if you want to meet her in person so again, meet her digitally at PrimalGirl.com.
You can also meet her in person at this year’s PrimalCon Conference as well as the Ancestral Health Symposium and be on the lookout for this summer so the summer of 2013, on her new book The Hidden Plague where she applies her uncanny ability to really generate meaningful results through lifestyle intervention in a way that I think will benefit, as Tara mentioned, millions and millions of Americans, so Tara, thank you so much.
Tara: Thank you so much for having me on today, Jonathan. I really enjoyed talking to you.
Jonathan: Well, thank you. Listeners, I really hope you enjoy today’s show. I really hope you feel empowered, and remember today and everyday afterwards, eat more and exercise less but do that smarter. Talk with you soon.
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